BA Classical Literature and Civilisation

Fascinated by ancient cultures? Love reading and thinking for yourself? Then this innovative degree is for you. You will encounter the ancient world in all its diversity, with the chance to explore literature, drama, myth, religion and history, as well as philosophy and art. 

You do not need to have studied Latin or Greek as we offer specially designed modules to help you explore the original texts behind the translations; and if you have studied these ancient languages, we can take you forward from whatever level you’ve reached. The programme is taught in the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology where you’ll learn from renowned experts in their field and be encouraged to pursue your own interests in Classical studies, and develop the skills that will give you the edge in the job market. 

Your study tour to Greece or Italy is an exciting feature of the course, allowing you to visit the lands that you study.  Student satisfaction scores for Classical Literature and Civilisation at Birmingham are very high with 96% of students reporting that they are satisfied with the quality of the course. Classical Literature and Civilisation graduates from Birmingham benefit from a higher than average rate of employability for the subject, with 90% going into work or study within six months of graduation. The wide range of posts they have secured includes roles in law, business, the media and teaching at every level.

Course fact file

UCAS code: Q820

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 30

Applications in 2013: 126

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September


Most of our students will have had little chance to explore Classical Literature & Civilisation at school or college, so our initial focus will be on helping you adapt to new ways of working. Our focus on understanding ancient civilisations will include exploring primary sources, such as Mesopotamian, Egyptian or Classical texts which have survived to the modern day, or the monuments and objects that the members of those civilisations themselves created – a steadily growing resource as new discoveries are made.

First year
You will gain a grounding in Greco-Roman culture, its historical contexts and its continuing impact on the world we live in. You may also choose to study Greek or Latin language. 

Second year
Our core modules take you to the heart of the Rome of Cicero and Augustus: through their literary, philosophical and political texts, we encounter the Romans at a time of crisis as Republic gives way to Empire. You will also be able to choose from our unique range of options in literature, culture, language, myth, religion, art, philosophy, archaeology and history. A special feature of the second year is the study tour to Greece or Italy in the Easter vacation.  The trip is subsidised by the university. 

Third year
In your first semester, our unique practical course in Athenian Drama brings to life the form of artistic expression which was the soul of Athens’ participatory democracy. In the second semester, we put tragedy and comedy in the context of other writings – philosophical, political and historical – through which Athenians achieved lasting insights into the challenges of living together as a community. Once again, you make your choice from our many options, which change from year to year. The highlight of the final year is your dissertation: a substantial research project on a subject of special interest to you.

Why study this course

Classics and Ancient History at Birmingham is one of the few university departments in the UK that draws together the study of Greece and Rome with Egypt and the Near East. Academic staff in the offer a wide range of expertise in the history, culture, archaeology and languages of the ancient world.

Our teaching and research covers a vast range of interdisciplinary topics, from the study of Greek love poetry to slavery in Greece and Rome; from age and ageing at Rome, to mapping the ancient city; from studies of Greek and Roman religion, to the Christianisation of society in Late Antiquity… just a few of the fascinating areas we focus on.

One of the highlights of your degree programme will be a real voyage of discovery to Italy or Greece in the two-week innovative study tour you’ll undertake at Easter in your second year. A small group of you with similar interests will be guided by us in planning your own personal tours, setting objectives to inform your individual projects and carrying them out to present a lucid and lively academic report on what you’ve seen, experienced and discovered.  This tour is subsidised by the university. 

We offer exciting opportunities and a commitment to excellence in teaching. Study here and you’ll have the privilege of learning from academics and postgraduate students who are at the forefront of interdisciplinary research in all the major civilisations of the ancient Mediterranean, and all periods of classical antiquity, up to and beyond the end of the Roman Empire.

At Birmingham, you’ll benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment for your undergraduate studies, focused on ensuring you’re a fully supported and active learner. Our unique degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development; a balance that’s highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual and creative industries. The courses are also very flexible, allowing you to specialise more and more as you progress, culminating in a final-year dissertation that allows you to carry out in-depth, individually supervised research into topics of your choice.

Classical Literature and Civilisation open day talk


Fees and funding

Standard fees apply
Learn more about fees and funding 

Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

General Studies: accepted

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34 points

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

Standard English language requirements apply 
Learn more about international entry requirements.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at

Learn more about applying

Joint Honours combinations

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).


To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.


[Video above - Dr Elena Theodorakopoulos discusses careers and employability during the Classical Literature and Civilisation open day presentation]

Graduates of Classical Studies, like all arts and humanities students, develop a wide range of skills which are highly attractive to employers. Studying Classics involves analysing the ancient world in a political, social, and cultural context. This helps the development of skills in research and analysis of complex information, working independently and as part of a team, and articulate communication of judgments and arguments. You will also have the opportunity to carry out self- directed project work which helps self management, organisation and research skills.

The University of Birmingham has graduate employability rates for Classical Literature and Civilisation graduates above the national average. Our Classical Literature and Civilisation graduates have a high average starting salary of £18,000 per year. 90% of our Classical Literature and Civilisation graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. Our graduates go on to careers in a wide range of areas such as law, business, education and the media, with employers including central and local government, museums, cultural and heritage organisations, charities and a range of commercial companies. Specific jobs include PR and communications, human resources, legal work, library work, events planning and tourism.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to our graduates, including our ‘Careers in Heritage, Museums and History’event.

We also hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, law marketing and working with charities. The newly developed optional professional skills module allows students in their second year to gain experience in a working environment which can lead to the development of further valuable skills. Placements are offered with the support of local employers, and we are developing links with heritage and cultural organisations to create more opportunities for students.

In addition, our students are encouraged to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for those career areas where placements are often unpaid. You can even apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. Our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of the College's academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.

Cultural Internships

Our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.